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“We’re creating a tool that champions diversity and underrepresented talent in the commercial production industry”

Leadership Lessons With Guy Hayward, Global CEO of Forsman and Bodenfors


Thanks to some very innovative and forward-thinking members of our team, our New York office is currently working on a tool that champions diversity and underrepresented talent in the commercial production industry. We’re looking forward to launching this tool in the coming months.


I had the pleasure to interview Guy Hayward. Guy has an extensive history of establishing strong footholds in global markets, demonstrated by his previous work with major brands including Nike, Adidas, Microsoft and The Coca-Cola Company. In his current role as Global CEO of Forsman and Bodenfors, a global creative collective renowned for blending creativity, data and analytics, technology and media, Hayward is helping to move the agency forward around the world but particularly in Asia, which includes looking at how to respond to the fallout from the U.S.-China trade war.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I always wanted to be a journalist — and I was one for a year. I covered football and worked at the World Cup in Mexico in 1986. Sadly, I realized that I wasn’t a very good writer, but I loved the immediacy of journalism, and seeing people’s reaction to it. And that’s how I got into advertising.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Advertising is a team game. No one person ever achieves anything great on their own. So I’m very grateful to my team members throughout my career. What’s great about working at Forsman & Bodenfors is that our culture of collaboration and flat team structures allow our teams to work autonomously toward our clients’ aims. Having strong teams is central to creating great work.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?

Thanks to some very innovative and forward-thinking members of our team, our New York office is currently working on a tool that champions diversity and underrepresented talent in the commercial production industry. We’re looking forward to launching this tool in the coming months.

What trends do you see involving China’s markets and its brands?

One of the most interesting trends we’ve noticed is that Chinese brands are going global, but they are appearing in markets where we didn’t expect to see them. As opposed to moving into the U.S. or other larger Western economies right away, brands are showing up first in Southeast Asia or Africa. Chinese brands’ global expansion are not following the path of the traditional global brands.

What are the biggest challenges these brands face?

Like any brand that enters a new market, quickly gaining awareness to build connections with consumers in that market is the biggest challenge and priority.

Can you share the top challenges of doing business in China and how you overcame them?

The entire digital ecosystem is different from everything we know elsewhere. The channels, the functionalities, and how a brand can integrate and scale are all totally different. The rapid speed at which the market is developing as well as its internet-based economy create the need for accelerated process and mindset. Old tools and methods cannot be applied in China. They need adaptation or in some cases reinvention.


We keep hearing about the “trade war.” What are your thoughts about it? Given the unknowns, how do you plan to pivot?

In recent years, international marketers have made tremendous progress as they’ve bridged geographic and cultural barriers and created stronger global brands. The billions of dollars of tariffs imposed by both the U.S. and China present a barrier to global growth and will certainly hurt the progress that U.S. brands like Starbucks and Harley-Davidson have achieved in China. Now, if a brand or product is suddenly burdened with an extra tariff, marketers must work that much harder to justify the premium. Competitors lucky enough to remain tariff-free must see this moment as a huge opportunity to grab share.

These tariffs will favor local brands and open the door for competitors from outside the US, so we do not worry unduly. We are already working in China with international brands that are not from U.S. marketers.

Life will be a little harder for U.S. marketers. But Chinese consumers still want international brands and there are many of those around — tariffs or not.

Originally published at medium.com

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